What is it? Bibb, Boston, Butter... It goes by many names. And it's slightly more expensive than your average romaine. But we have good reasons for why we love it, so read on...
Boston and Bibb lettuces are two varieties of a larger category of butterhead lettuces, according to the Food Lover's Companion. All butterhead lettuces are extremely tender, with smooth, loosely-coiled leaves. When we see them in the grocery store, they're often in plastic clamshell cases with a root still knotted at the bottom.
So, as we mentioned above, butter lettuce can be expensive for the amount you're getting. A head is usually a lightweight little fellow, sometimes no bigger than a grapefruit. Here's why we buy it anyway:
• The leaves have a sweet flavor that can make an amazing, beautiful salad with just a simple vinaigrette—no other toppings needed. In essence, butter lettuce looks fancy. That's all there is to it.
• We usually have a hard time eating a larger head of lettuce before it spoils. Butter lettuce is the perfect size for two big salads or a couple of nights of small side salads. Which means we're really getting our money's worth because we're not wasting food.
• The leaves are the perfect size for a sandwich, and they're almost never limp or weak. They have a bit of crunch and good texture.
• The leaves are also the perfect size and shape for rolling around something else. They work well for Asian chicken wraps or for curling around some tuna salad.
• We find that the core is crunchy but still tender and flavorful, so we rarely cut away a lot of it. We use the whole head (again, less waste).
We also find that it's a bit easier to wash, since the leaves are pretty loose. We've got half a head in our refrigerator right now, waiting for tonight's dinner.
What's your favorite lettuce? Any other butter/Bibb/Boston fanatics out there?
Related: Ways to Use Lettuce Besides Salads and Sandwiches
(Image: Flickr member Banana Donuts-Half Baked Photography, licensed for use under Creative Commons)